Category Archives: Sitting

As Your Fear Grows, So Too Will Your Pain

Do you associate a particular activity with back pain? Or other chronic pain?

Perhaps every time you walk, you have pain. Or when you sit or stand.

I found an interesting site by Eddie who does yoga. He has also discovered that the mind is responsible for a lot of your pain and for making it worse. His teacher told him that the mind always wants to make a big drama out of everything.

In another post The Turning Point, he talks about Dr John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain, and says that after he read the part about associating a particluar activity with pain, he was able to take measures to prevent it happening in the future. The activity that triggered his pain was sitting. He had spent days avoiding sitting! Imagine how hard that must have been.

But the turning point of the title was when he used affirmations and communicated to his unconscious mind the way Sarno suggests, and it worked. He told himself he was well, and had nothing to fear. He reminded himself by putting up notes all over his house!

Now, that is the sort of stuff you should be doing! – Not complaining about the pain and reaffirming to yourself that you are unwell. Remember, the body cannot heal itself when it is under stress. Don’t add to the stress by telling yourself you are in pain and never going to get better.

It is possible to get better, and these change in attitude and behavior are the first step.

 

One Cause of Neck Pain – Forward Head Posture

forward head positionHave you noticed you get more neck pain than you used to? Or more headaches than you used to?

One of the most common culprits for causing neck pain, upper back pain and headaches is Forward Head Posture or Forward Head Position (FHP).

Forward Head Posture can also increase insomnia and breathing problems. It’s a completely abnormal position for our heads to be in. The head should always be positioned directly over the body so that your neck is aligned with your back. Your back and neck is designed to support the head, but only when it is directly above it!

When you lean your head forward, you are demanding more work of your neck and back muscles. And as they are not used to this movement, they will ache. You are also actually producing the equivalent of adding more weight to your back and neck , in the same way that holding a heavy object with outstretched arms will seem a lot heavier than holding it close to your chest.

There are no prizes for guessing what the biggest culprit is, in making our heads universally want to move forward! Yup. Our computer screens.

So how do we get rid of this pain?

Well, the first thing is to stop our bad habits, and refrain from leaning forward. People with headrests on their office chairs are a lot less likely to be guilty of holding their heads forward. When you have a headrest, you can lean your head back against it, and even recline back a bit. This is mostly how I sit in my marvellous Kinnarps 6000+ chair.

One thing you could try is to move your monitor closer to you. How much space do you actually need between you and the monitor anyway?

I know some people have their keyboards in between, but really, it’s better to have the keyboard on a shelf lower than the desk, so your arms are in the correct position. If you have that luxury, then bring your monitor closer to the front of your desk. There! –You’ve just increased your monitor size in two seconds – for free!

Also, most browsers let you increase the size of the text, by pressing Control and + together. Make sure you have just the text set to increase; not the pics too, or they’ll all be poor quality. You can change this in View > Zoom > Text Only in Firefox.

People laugh when they see the size of my screen text, and ask me if I’m half blind, but although I have 20/20 vision, I think why should I have to squint or move my head forward to read people’s miniscule online text? I work online all day – I might as well make the experience as comfortable as possible. Also, it ensures I get fewer headaches.

But what if you’ve got into the habit of having your neck forward the whole time, or for a lot of the time?

One great way to stop it, is to set an hourly timer. I have a stopwatch that bleeps on the hour every hour. And when I hear it, I check my posture, and re-adjust it if I’m not sitting straight, and I check my To Dos to make sure I haven’t got distracted. Trust me the hourly chime does wonders!

If you use this technique you’ll get out of the habit of poking your head forward pretty quickly.

I actually set up a video camera to record me for an hour on the PC a few months back. I was aware that I wasn’t aware (!) of my posture while I’m in the moment and concentrating on my work. I’m happy to report, I only lurched forward once, and that was when I saw a shocking headline, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, so I took a closer look! (like him in the pic above!) But the rest of the time, my posture was pretty good.

So to prevent FHP and minimize the chance of getting back pain, neck pain and headaches:

  • Move your monitor closer to you
  • Increase text size
  • Use an hourly chime to check your posture regularly
  • If possible, get a ergonomics chair with a head rest (and arm rests)

And remember:

“No good deed goes unpunished”

So don’t stick your neck out – it’ll hurt!

Paula

Air Conditioning Is Bad For Your Back Pain

air con affects back painIn the last post I talked about ergonomic chairs that support the lumbar spine  in the right place, but even some ergonomic chairs, still fail to keep the back warm, because they have a mesh becking. This allows cold air from air conditioning vents to pass through.

While this is great when you first arrive at work, after you have been running up the stairs, it is not ideal after two hours of sitting down, when workers’ body temperature has considerably dropped. No-one thinks to turn the air conditioning down or increase the air temperature after an hour or so, and this too can save people’s backs.

People who are prone to back pain should not be sat near or in the path of air vents, as this can worsen their condition. It is an invisible threat and so often goes unnoticed, even by the sufferers themselves. For the people who are always hot, and insist on the air-con being ramped up to full power (“cranked up to 11” as Spinal  Tap – scuse the pun – would say!), those individuals should have an additional small fan in their faces (it’s usually their faces that need the breeze most).

Here’s another silly thing that a lot of employers do that costs them more money. They have the air con on full all day, but it’s set to room temperature. You can achieve the same results  if you have the air con on low and set to room temperature. It just takes longer initially!

Turning it up to full power is only needed for a short amount of time to change the temperature quickly.

So tell your employer you know a cool way (sorry, I’m all puns today) that they can save money on electricity AND on sick days from people with bad backs, simply by having the air con on low!

Image by Kenkwsiu on Flickr

 

Top 10 Ways To Prevent Back Pain When Sitting

Top 10 back pain tips when sittingSome employers are waking up to the fact that their employees need to be kept comfortable while working, in order to reduce the number of sickness days due to chronic pain; most notably Back Pain.

The Oman Observer reports that staff at Omantel are being asked “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” as part of a new campaign to reduce the number of back pain incidents and promote better posture so that they look after their backs and stay healthy.
The Omantel Human Resources Unit know that encouraging people to sit properly with the correct posture was vital in acheiving better health and safety standards at work.

Employees are also being given individual questionnaires that help them judge if their backs are healthy and give them practical advice on what to do to make sure their backs stay pain free and injury free. See the full story Here.

More companies need to follow suit. It’s fine to provide them with ergonomic chairs, but many people don’t sit correctly in them, or make the biggest mistake of all; they stay in the same position for too long.

It’s essential to change position regularly, and to stretch and exercise while sitting down for long periods of time. You can achieve this by doing the following exercises; all of which can be done while sitting:

  • Shoulder rolls
  • Shoulders up (for two seconds at a time)
  • Head rolls
  • Arm Stretches
  • Elbow rolls (similar to the funky chicken, but circular)
  • Buttock clenches
  • Thigh clenches
  • Back stretch (arms back, arch the back and face the ceiling – ONLY for a few seconds)
  • Hand stretches (spread the finger out, together with regular making of fists – NO punching people!!)
  • Abdominal clenches  (while rolling your back forward for a few seconds – chin on chest)

posture at workDo these every 20 minutes if possible. No fewer than every 60 minutes. You might want to TELL people beforehand, so they understand what you are doing! In fact why not do a presentation on this for everyone to use?

Some companies don’t even supply their staff with ergonomic chairs, which is a FALSE economy, when they end up losing their staff to back problems.

My personal favorite ergonomic chair is the Kinnarps PLUS 6000 series, and it MUST have arm rests. See one Here. They come in hundreds of different colors and fabrics. And they’re very solid and durable. I have had mine since 2003 and it’s still going strong.

But the best advice to reduce back pain when sitting is to move about when on your breaks. So many people just continue to sit at their desks and look at their emails, or browse the internet. Get up and go for a walk, even if only for five minutes, and it will make all the difference to your back.

 

 

 

Prevent Back Pain When Driving

back pain drivingLong car journeys can play havoc with your back, especially when you suffer from chronic pain.

The American Chiropractic Association has made some suggestions on how to relieve back pain while driving your car:

  • Adjust your seat so that you are comfortably sitting close to the wheel, with your knees slightly higher than your hips.
  • Use a Lumber Support Cushion or the BackFriend on your car seat.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch and rest
  • Stretch your shoulders, legs and toes regularly as you drive.
  • Keep hands on the steering wheel at the 3:00 and 7:00 positions, occasionally alternating to the 10:00 and 2:00 positions. (3 and 7? Really? They’re not even symmetrical!)
  • Have a relaxed grip on the steering wheel, and occasionally tighten, then loosen your grip to vary your muscle movement.

When I first passed my driving test, I was such a nervous driver, I would have my shoulders up near my ears the whole time before I realized, and my back and neck were in constant pain. When I made a conscious effort to relax my shoulders, everything else relaxed too and I was in a lot less pain. And I think, a better driver as a result!